Looking for fun things to do for a birthday that don’t cost an arm and a leg? Get a few new tricks to spring on the birthday boy or girl this year!

After 8 1/2 hours of pitocin induced, unmedicated labor, I was finally holding my first born baby boy.  My Hubby and I examined him and beamed at each other.  We weren’t quite sure what we’d just gotten ourselves into, but we were ready to give it a go!  And we knew that this birthday would always be special to us.

Over the years, we’ve found several fun things to do for a birthday to make every family member feel special.  There are so many things to do without spending a ton of money!  You can make the birthday boy or girl feel special with a few touches that don’t have to empty your bank account (or take a ton of planning!).

Here’s Our List of Fun Things To Do For a Birthday

Tons of fun things to do for a birthday that won't cost you an arm and a leg!


Everyone loves to hear (positive!) stories about themselves!  One of our favorite things to do is remember stories of past birthdays, especially the day our child was born.  For the adults, we might just remember fun times we’ve had together, or that family story about “that one time” that people outside our family wouldn’t get.

The Mystery Machine birthday cake

Let Them Choose the Food

I know a family that lets the kids eat whatever they want for their birthday dinner.  A child might have salami rolls, ice cream, potato chips, and cereal.  It’s one day a year…why not live it up?

In our family, the special guy or gal can choose their breakfast (if there’s time for that) and dinner.  They also get to choose their birthday dessert.  Many of them pick a favorite flavor of cake with a cool character in icing.  But one of our boys likes to mix it up.  He’s had cherry pie, blackberry cobbler, and even banana splits.  You can put a candle into any of those things!

Some fun ways to celebrate a birthday that are cheap or even FREE! Click To Tweet

Book > Card

Birthday cards can be special and all, but I’m not excited about spending $4 on a card they’ll throw away.  I’d rather spend that money on a book they can enjoy for a long time!  My kids like reading the same books over and over again, so books are always worth it.

My favorite places to get a great deal are Goodwill, Half.com, and Scholastic. New Scholastic Customers use Code NEW10 to Take 10% off!


They aren’t just for parties!  We sometimes hang streamers in the door so the birthday person can bust through like a football player once they get out of bed.

Photo Book

They say you don’t have as many pictures of your last kid as you do your first.  But in today’s world where we always carry a camera, that just isn’t true anymore!  Know what is rare?  An actual printed picture.  My fifth born has tons of photos of himself, but almost none are pictures he can hold in his hand.

I made a special photo book of his first year of life, and he pulls it out all the time!  I always make my books on Shutterfly, because it’s easy and totally affordable.

Shutterfly offers a free 8×8 Hard Cover Photo Book to New Customers! (Code AFFPHOTOBK at check out.) 

The Kiss

If you liked Everybody Loves Raymond, you probably remember The Birth Kiss.  Marie would find Raymond at exactly the minute he was born and she’d give him a kiss.


(You could probably find a less embarrassing way to mark the birth moment.  Your call.)

Collect Your Free Stuff

Lots of stores and restaurants want to give you free stuff for your birthday.  So go collect it!  Here’s a list of 100 places that offer birthday freebies.

Pancake Numbers

Make pancakes for breakfast.  You can add favorite fillers like chocolate chips, birthday sprinkles, or fruit.  Then shape them in the right number(s) to honor the person of the day.

Invite Friends

Spending time with a good friend is always a treat.  Why not have a buddy or two over to celebrate your day with you?

Make Treats

Make some yummy treats.  Eat the whole pan guilt free…or share them with your friends, classmates, or coworkers.

Special Plate

Our kids get to make a special plate at a ceramics shop.  We pull it out to mark special occasions such as birthdays.  You could also pick up a colorful plate that only comes out on birthdays.

Do Their Chores

Everyone appreciates not having to do mundane chores.  It’s an even bigger treat if your love language is “acts of service”.  Some people might consider this one of their favorite gifts!


Make an Announcement

Does the birthday boy or girl crave attention?  They’ll love the staff at a restaurant singing to them.  Or you could have the principal or boss make an announcement that it’s a special birthday at school or work.

Turn Gift Time Into a Scavenger Hunt

Yeah, you could just hand them their gifts.  Or you could make the anticipation last a little longer!  Wrap up the first clue in a box and send them on a hunt through the house to find their gift.

Ask A Question

Each year when you take a video of the birthday celebrant, ask him or her a question.  I ask my kids what they want to be when they grow up.  Then we can watch old videos and see how it changes over the years.

I ask my husband, too, because we aren’t sure the official age for being a grown up.  😉

These fun things to do for a birthday don’t cost much, but they sure make the day special!

Even though that baby is now a teenager, he still loves to celebrate his day!  Who wouldn’t want a day free from chores??

Is your birthday buddy tough to buy for?  Check out these 14 Cheap Gift Ideas Guaranteed to Be Winners!

14 Cheap Gift Ideas Guaranteed to Be Winners. Need cheap gift ideas for your Yankee Swap, Dirty Santa, White Elephant, or whatever you call it? These gifts also work for teachers, coworkers, or anyone you want to show some appreciation to (without going into debt). Some different ideas here.


What are your favorite birthday traditions?

15 Cheap or Free Things to Do For a Birthday
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15 Cheap or Free Things to Do For a Birthday
Looking for fun things to do for a birthday that don't cost an arm and a leg? Get a few new tricks to spring on the birthday boy or girl this year!
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